Summary

Gods and other mythological beings exist. But they’re capricious a-holes.

Written by
Neil Gaiman in 2001

American Gods is not your typical science fiction novel. Set in modern day America, or at least a version of it where gods roam among us mere mortals, it details one man’s journey from a low point in his life, to understanding himself and the direction his life should take.

Shadow has spent the last three years in prison. Not for armed robbery mind you, but for beating up on the guys who didn’t split the loot with him properly. Shadow is most looking forward to going home and spending some quality time with his wife. Which is unsurprising. What is surprising is that Shadow is released a few days earlier, not for anything good though. His wife was killed in a car accident with his best friend.

On his way home, he meets a mysterious man, Mr Wednesday, who offers Shadow a job. There’s nothing else for him at home, his life hasn’t been ruined, but a chapter ended and a new one must begin.

And what an interesting new chapter it is. A long, winding adventure through the American landscape, meeting new (old) people and Shadow is left wondering what the literal hell is going on. He dreams of all manner of things, is directionless and no really sure what he wants to do with himself. That and the fact that his wife seems to have come back from the dead.

Along the way, there are little tidbits of stories that help to build Gaiman’s world of wonders. Throughout the ages, we see when and how belief in the supernatural arrived on American shores. And it wasn’t just the more recent waves of immigration either.

Anyway, the book is as described in the preface; long and meandering. It’s by no means bad though. Surprisingly an enjoyable yet slow adventure, the story is quite well paced and the alternate universe in which it’s set would be quite an interesting one to live in indeed.

Overall, there’s a good reason why this book is highly rated by readers. Even though it starts off slowly, the build up and the pay off is well worth the time spent. If like me you found this a bit hard to get off the ground, remain patient. You’ll enjoy this one.

Rating

Gets better as you go along.

Read this if you…

Enjoy long and winding roads along which adventure always ensues.

Skip this if you…

Aren’t patient enough to get through some of the more mundane parts.

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2 thoughts on “American Gods

  1. I’m a fan of the more underrated Anansi Boys, which is set in much the same universe, but has a different rhythm and pacing altogether (though I “read” Anansi Boys as an audiobook so that may have swayed my perception a little)

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